Following Religion, Comes Death

I like to tell myself that I am not afraid of death. I think that part of me believes that as well. Yet this nagging sensation, hidden deep within me, tells me that I have tricked myself into believing this. I want to believe it so badly, that I have lied to myself, so cleverly, so convincingly, that part of me has started to perceive that I am unafraid. That what comes After is not something to be afraid of.

What comes after is a question I have forever questioned, ever since I was first confronted with death. This first time, must’ve been when my Grandmother died. I was young then – five, maybe six years old. I think I was too young to truly feel the emotions you’re meant to: shock, sorrow, anger, even manic feelings.

I was still too young when it came to her funeral. I was sat in church, listening to the priest rattle on. But I wasn’t really listening. I was a child, more intent on the people around me. And they were all crying. And I wasn’t.

I remember turning round to my cousin – merely a month older than me – to check if he was crying. If I should be crying. I can’t even recall if he was. I just remember I wasn’t. Saved by my child-like innocence.

I don’t remember my mum actually telling that my Grandmother had died. That is a benefit of being an innocent child. Your mind blocks out all the horrors that you experienced. My only memory of seeing my Grandmother in a state of near death, was when we visited her in hospital. I think she was asleep, or was on some heavy drug. I can’t even remember what she died from – I think it was cancer.

Either way, that is my only memory. I have few other memories of my Grandmother truth be told. My abiding memory is one where she taught me about etiquette. As a kid, I was always in a world of fantasy (nothing has changed). I suppose most kids were, but still. I had a plastic Zorro sword, one which I carried everywhere. One time, my grandmother asked to see the sword, so I handed it to her. She shook her head, taking the sword as she did and gripping the handle.

“You should never hand someone a blade with the sharp end pointing towards you.”

So she turned it back round, and gave it to me, handle first.

And you know what? I have never forgotten that lesson. I always hand people sharp objects blade first, be it a kitchen knife or a screwdriver or whatever. Handle first.

Yet then she was gone, with only pictures there to remind me of what she looked like. And I never remember feeling sad. Sure, I felt sad once I came to grips with the concept of death. But never before. Never when it mattered most. When I should’ve been mourning.

It was like this when my parents got divorced. I was nine at the time, possibly ten. I remember walking into my dad, sitting on the end of the bed, crying, with my mum stood up. My mum said that she was no longer happy and wasn’t laughing as much with him. I don’t remember feeling anything. Perhaps I was too young to. Spared those emotions by my age.

But my sister. My sister was at the age where children just start to understand how the world works. Love, death, all those sensations that I was yet to fully understand – to appreciate. She was almost two years older than me and must’ve been upset for weeks.

Later on, I was told that she wasn’t only upset at my parents, wasn’t only upset that the divorce, or the world, but was upset by me. By my lack of emotion. Perhaps, in some ways, she was jealous. Jealous that I had been spared the pain and suffering that comes with a broken family.

I never remember feeling upset about it. They both moved on. A few months of mourning for my dad, but soon he was happy. It didn’t affect my life, save for that I now visited London every four weeks for the weekend.

Now I’m at the age where death and loss would affect me. Reading Pet Semetary (Stephen King) got me thinking about death. I had a neighbour – not quite a friend, but someone who I was close to – who died when I was in year nine (around the age of thirteen). He was about six himself and he died of meningitis. That I remember being distraught about. Longest day of school I remember, constantly close to tears.

I wasn’t even close to him. I had played with him maybe twice. Yet it hit me: that death can come snatch people away at any moment.

When my thoughts turn to this, my mind becomes depressed and sullen in itself. It starts to think what if. What if my mum died? Or my dad? Or even my sister? And I feel the emotions rise up, the emotions I should’ve felt when I was young, when my grandmother died.

Then I snap myself out of it, realising there is no need to think about it.

But what comes after?

When my grandmother died, I did not know what came after. I had been told before – whether it was at school or family, I do not know – that there is nothing after death. Nothing. Just nothing. Blackness so absolute that nothing can exist. But, as a child, I could not imagine there being nothing. Children have so much life, so much energy, that the idea of everything stopping is far too foreign to them.

Even now, I do not know what comes after. No one does. But what people believe is key. My belief? I do not believe in God, therefore I cannot rightly believe that heaven or hell exist. As comforting as the idea of heaven is, I cannot bring myself to believe in it. Yet I do not believe there is nothing after death, either.

The idea of reincarnation fascinates me. Coming back to life with no memory of previous life sounds plausible. I do not know if I believe that a good previous life leads to reincarnation of good fortune, or vice versa, but I think I could believe that we are in a never-ending cycle of life – always forgetting; never remembering. That could be plausible.

But you see, could. Could is the word that makes all the difference. Anything could be, but nothing is known. Nothing is certain. And so I carry on guessing, never sticking with a belief, for the more I think about them, the less likely they seem.

That is the point though: life after death is something no one can report upon. It is a myth about what happens next, much like the story of Christ. Belief, much like religion, is what keeps the idea alive.

I suppose one day I will find out what comes after life. But not for a while, if death is kind. No, not for a while.

Anniversary (apparently)

Now, according to WordPress, today (or possibly tomorrow – not sure whether my computer is set to New Zealand or English time) marks exactly one year since I first created this blog.

Though I do not actually have a lot to say about this year, I still thought it was a historical day, and therefore worthy of a post.

I do also feel as though this blog, along with my excessive and poor attempts at writing, have improved my writing considerably. Therefore, I concede that anybody who enjoys writing, should try their utmost hardest to write as much as possible, be it a blog or stories or poems or whatever you wish.

As ever, if you are interested in my New Zealand travels, have a gander at my New Zealand blog:

Home Alone… with a Painter.

Been quite a while since my last post that actually involves thinking.

So, as the title suggests, I am currently home alone with a painter. My loving parents have abandoned me for all of August, which incidentally is my last month in the country. They get back on the 25th, the day before I depart for London and then my flight to New Zealand. It is at these moments that I feel well and truly loved.

All joking aside (yes, I was joking) I’m not really saddened by the lack of presence from my parents. Having a free house is something every teenager craves… Or at least, I think so?

No, scratch that: every male teenager craves being home alone. Most females I have spoken to seem to be under the impression that I must be hating it.

What they do not is that I am not strictly home alone. Every day, without fail (except the weekends, thankfully) I have a mysterious man painting the landing of my house. This is an interesting arrangement, as I feel restricted by his presence.

That’s not to say that I haven’t organised things. I just haven’t organised many things during the day. Fairly certain he must think I’m a recluse. I rarely appear from my room during the day – for fear of annoying him or covering myself in paint by accident. The only times he sees people in the morning, which must look even more dodgy, with random people mysteriously appearing from my bedroom with pyjamas on (or just boxers in the case of one of my friends… that was an interesting greeting).

Apart from that, like I said earlier, being home alone is quite fun. Except for the independency for when things go wrong. Being only 18, my mum has always been there to solve things that are beyond my capability of solving. So when the dishwasher broke, I was a little unsettled by what the outcome would be. Or when there was a power-cut. That was equally worrying, especially when I couldn’t find anything wrong with the fuses (don’t worry, it turns out most of the village suffered from the same power-cut).

But the worst independent thing that I’ve had to do was the cleaning. The amount of cleaning I have done has been ridiculous. Somehow, my painter has developed a knack of, whilst painting, coating the floor in a thick layer of dust. I still don’t quite understand how this possible. Either way, dust, on a wooden floor, is an utter bitch to remove. So this is where the aid of a mother, who has always kept the house clean (credit also has to go to our cleaner, who, you know, cleans) would’ve been appreciated a considerable amount.

Welcome to the adult world, Richard. Full of cleaning and other horrible tasks that all teenagers take for granted. Damn you, growing age.

An Ode to Soothers

I was originally going to attempt (however feebly it would be) to try write an ode for this, but then it struck me that I lack the artistic talent to construct one… Plus I hate most poems, so writing one is a truly daunting prospect.

So here we are with an ode-which-is-not-in-fact-an-ode. All about Soothers. I’m kind of hoping they are Universal, or only British people will understand what I am passionately commending.

Soothers, for those poor souls who have never experienced them, are rather delectable sweets which have been in and amongst many debates about whether or not they actually have any qualities which can be deemed beneficial for people with the flu, and therefore also for people with a sore throat.

This brings me onto the reason why I have decided to write an oddity of an ode (ooh I like that…): I sadly have been suffering from a severe case of a cold (also known as ‘man flu’) for just over a week now. This has led to me missing the occasional day of school, as well as feeling the pressure that all dead people must experience of struggling to breathe. Not only that, my sinuses (turns out we each have four sinuses, which I never knew) have been blocked, my head has been thumping – though that is a usual symptom for me – and I’ve just generally had no energy. Hence, the Soothers are called in to the rescue.

My favourite flavour (due to Chrome being American, it strongly detests the spelling of both those words and I hate it for it) of Soothers has got to be the blackcurrant flavour. Not only does it smell nice, but it tastes rather splendid.

However, I fancied a changed. For the first time ever, I purchased the ‘Peach and Raspberry’ flavoured sweets. Whilst it primarily caused me to gag as the sweet became attached to my tongue and was slowly drained of its flavour, I must admit, it ultimately became rather pleasant, once I’d rid myself of the first few sweets. Of course, this could be due to the fact my tongue became rather numb and lost most of its taste receptors, but this flavour did have the advantage that it gave the feeling as though it was piercing through the mucus (I truly hate that word, almost as much as I hate Chrome right now) and unclogging my throat.

After thorough research – meaning spending about 5 minutes on Google – I have found that it, in fact, does fuck all for your throat. The main ingredient in Soothers, menthol, merely uses it scent to create the illusion of unblocking your sinuses. Whilst this is helpful in the short-term, it does also mean that in the long-term my feelings of suffering re-emerge. It also means that in the long-term, my money will continue to drain away as I spend more and more upon Soothers in order to receive the temporary relief that they grant.

Not that this will ever ward me off from spending my well-earned (in the sense of that my parents give me the money and I earn it by staying out of their way as much as possible) money upon the delicious sweets. Perhaps in the future though, I will stick to the blackcurrant flavour and avoid the new peach and raspberry combination… For medicinal purposes of course.


And there is my ode-which-is-not-in-fact-an-ode.

Thinking about it, perchance it would be more prudent of me if I were to invest in some actual drugs that will help clear up my flu… I did not think of that.